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Highland residents to benefit from pioneering FitHomes thanks to £3M City-Region deal windfall

Project could transform lives of people with complex health needs.

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Funding of £3 million has been agreed for a ground breaking Highland project that could transform the lives of people with complex health needs as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.

The business case for the ‘FitHome’ assisted living project was approved on 23 November 2017, with £3 million funding from the Scottish Government. The project, led by Albyn Housing Society in partnership with Carbon Dynamic and NHS Highland, aims to establish a new concept for health and care delivery at home by utilising data-capture and Internet of Things capabilities to predict and prevent episodes leading to ill health. This, in turn, will enable people to live independently at home for as long as they want, while potentially allowing for early hospital discharge.

The FitHome concept, which will be piloted initially with the construction of 12 homes at Dalmore, Ross-shire, won the Saltire Award for innovation in housing earlier this year and recently hosted a showcase event at the Scottish Parliament.

The Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal funding will support the purchase and development of 32 additional homes across several Highland locations. It is anticipated that the first City-Region Deal project will be in Nairn. One of the clusters will be built in Inverness City to suit the needs of veterans.

Calum Macaulay, Chief Executive of Albyn Housing Society, said:

“The central concept of these high-quality, sustainable homes is that they will include ambient, physiological and building sensors. The sensors will collect data that can be monitored and responded to by a variety of agencies. Potentially, this will transform the way health and social care is delivered.

“The collaboration has already included potential residents, school children, doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, health and social care managers, technologists, enterprise executives – anyone who can offer experience, expertise and insight to ensure this project results in a sustainable and successful model for the future.

“We’re very excited to be progressing this unique initiative as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal given its enormous potential to develop a Highland, UK, even Global, solution that encompasses housing, health, care, digital technology and economic growth.”

Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown said:

“I look forward to the development of the assisted living homes that this city region deal funding will bring – especially those in Inverness City for veterans. This £3 million investment shows the benefits of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal and how it will improve access to healthcare and housing in the area and, eventually, help people live independently in their homes for longer.

“The £135 million invested by the Scottish Government as part of the £315 million City Deal for the Inverness and Highland region, will continue to deliver significant long-term benefits for the city, region and Scotland as a whole.

“The Scottish Government recognises the value of this type of partnership which is why we have doubled our overall investment in city region deals in our draft budget for 2018–19.”

The £315 million Deal Document sets out the projects and programmes where the Scottish and UK Governments will commit investment of up to £188 million, together with £127 million of further investment by the council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Led by The Highland Council, the Inverness and Highland city-region deal is a joint initiative supported by up to £315 million investment, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.

As part of the agreed programme governance, the council is the accountable body for the majority of the City Region Deal projects. This means the council distributes funding and monitors progress for council led projects and partner projects.